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Annual Evaluation of Project: Sustainable Development and Integrated Water Management
Commissioning Unit: Saudi Arabia
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2021
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 11/2019
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Saudi Arabia
Documents Related to overall Management Response:  
1. Recommendation:

Recommendation 1. Undertake a substantive review of the project document

The review of the project would mainly aim at: 

- Documenting the change of scope and its subsequent implication on other project aspects such as budgeting.

- Developing a new governance model and management arrangements and address the gaps identified in this evaluation, mainly as related coordination and decision making mechanisms. - Re-design the M&E framework, including development of new SMART indicators that would obtain a robust evidence for the project intent (i.e capacity building) effectiveness and efficiency.

- Develop a new risk log that identifies emerging risks and mitigation strategies.

- Review the project outputs needs of experts and suggest resources allocations to each output including advice on the contracting modality (e,g full time expert vs short time assignment). 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Review each activity, activity group, and output. Change scope, modify it, and define new ones. All directors and output managers interviewed, everything rearranged, additional personnel needs noted and calculated.
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/01/25]
Project Chief Technical Advisor 2019/12 Completed All actions completed, personnel and project needs all taken into consideration, awaiting final approval by National Project Coordinator and Project Board, due to meet 2 February History
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2. Identify capacity needs and develop a capacity building plan

Despite the delay, the project team has recently developed a ToR to assess the capacity needs, this is now going through tendering process. It is important that this component is looked through carefully by identify the individual and institutional capacity needs in a systematic approach, and most importantly to be followed by a capacity building strategy that provides wide range of capacity building activities customised to address the priority needs, including means that ensure transfer of skills and knowledge such as mentorship or shadowing happening between recruited experts and MEWA staff.

The evaluation indicated that the sustainability of project achievements should be ensured, particularly due to the strong national ownership of these achievements. Most achievements are already institutionalized, which is an excellent first step toward sustainability. However, the project needs to define its exit strategy after the project ends including extension scenarios and how the MEWA would be able to run its business beyond the project.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Will be done after Phase of Applus Project.
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/06/11]
Project Manager 2020/06 Completed capacity assessment completed History
Parallely, low-level starter courses are developed
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/16]
Consultancy Firm/Project CTA 2020/08 Completed Courses were delayed because of COVID but have now been approved by National Project Coordinator History
Define its exit strategy
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/16]
CTA/PM 2020/12 Completed The new CTA is aware of the needed exit strategy and is working on it History
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3. Re-structure the project management unit with an intent to enhance the project management capacity and streamline decision making process

This should include supporting the PMU with strong project management capacities, clarifying project management duties clearly between the PMU members (PM, CTA, and NPC), and enabling the deputy minister to perform higher strategic role in the project decision making and governance. 

In order to fill the project management gap, it might be feasible to create a new position of a National Project Director (NPD) who reports directly to the deputy minister (the NPC) and directly manage the project manager and the CTA. The project director will need to be highly competent in applying UNDP project management framework and strong coordination and communication skills, the project director will have an overall responsibility for project-managing the entire project, implementing governance arrangements and coordinate the project delivery across the project teams and UNDP. This creates a hierarchical reportinglines in the project and enables the CTA and other technical experts to be more dedicated towards the technical aspects. This suggestion needs, however, to be investigated prior adoption, and after the understanding of the budget implications. 

Coordination and engagement in this project are seen at three levels,

d) Technical level: this involves coordination of the project activities level and make sure that project teams are aware of each other’s work, identify efficiencies and avoid duplication. e) At the project operation level: this includes coordination among the members of the project management team (NPC, CTA & PM), this coordination helps to achieve participatory decision making at the operational level. f) At the strategic level (project board): where seniors of the MEWA and UNDP meet to guide the project strategically and make strategic decisions such as project change of scope, approving work plan and budget, etc.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Detailed review of positions described in contract. Detailed review of other UNDP Projects in Saudi and outside
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/05/06]
CTA/PM 2020/05 Completed New structure approved, new recruitment launched History
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4. Re-activate the project board and project coordination group (currently called steering committee)

This project board is critically crucial in influencing the strategic directions of the project. The board is a strong governance platform to make on consensus-based management decisions for a project, provide strategic guidance and help to overcome risks. It is important to convene the project board with the same composition as described in the project document, at least, twice a year. The project board is particularly needed to oversee the implementation of the recommendation in this evaluation. 

It is also recommended that the project steering committee ToR is reviewed with an intent to make this a coordination platform only and no decision making, this may require to call it as Project Coordination Group (PCG) for technical coordination, harmonization, communication and linkages. The PCG should meet, at least, on a monthly basis to ensure proper coordination happening. 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Suggested Groups will be reactivated and meeting plan will be drafted
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/02/04]
PM/CTA 2020/01 Completed A plan has been drafted, Project board re-activated and new decisions to meet all other recommendations are currently being undertaken History
5. Recommendation:

Recommendation 5. UNDP to support the project with communication expertise

 It is obvious that there is inadequate communication of project achievements to MEWA decision makers and broader stakeholders. It is understood that UNDP CO has recently established a communication capacity to support various programs, and it is highly recommended that a communication specialist supports the PMU to communicate the project achievements appropriately and effectively. 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Management and UNDP will meet to discuss

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Steering committee meeting in January will identify needs and assist project in recruitment during Q1 2020
[Added: 2019/12/16] [Last Updated: 2020/05/06]
Mayssam Tamim 2020/04 Completed Steering committee met, identified needs all addressed and new recruitment currently ongoing History
6. Recommendation:

Recommendation 6. Upgrade the software and hardware assets to meet the modelling technical requirements

The project failed to obtain the required hardware and software to undertake the highly technical modelling work, as this is essential to undertake the modelling work on ongoing basis, it is recommended to invest in such a foundational basis to deliver high quality product and upgrade the already purchased software and hardware, and if required, buy a new ones. 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Agreement on new experts needed will be finalized and hardware required will be purchased
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/06/11]
Project Manager 2020/05 Completed restructuring finalized and new experts are being recruited History
7. Recommendation:

Recommendation 7. Assess the project financial needs and develop a resource mobilization plan

As noted in the evaluation, the project offers relatively limited resources comparing to the scale of the activities. The project is highly dependent on external funding, in some cases, non-recurrent public funding. It is recommended to assess the funding gaps, map funding opportunities and develop resource mobilisation plan including scenarios for securing the required funding. 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Additional personnel requirements identified Detailed budget review and changes for sustainability made
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/06/11]
CTA/PM 2020/05 Completed restructuring finalized and new personnel is being recruited History
TOR for ”Fund Raiser” Expert ready, Plan to be finalized by expert
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2020/06/11]
CTA/PM 2020/06 Completed New advisor to deputy minister hired to assist with fund raising for ministry and project History
8. Recommendation:

Recommendation 8. Review the project resourcing strategy and ToRs of all experts and address the deficit

It is recommended to undertake a holistic review of all experts ToRs to be more driven by the needs under each output, and balance the experts allocations to different outputs as well as review the expert engagement modality including short-term assignment in case if the sought deliverables don’t necessarily need a full time-job.

In light of these proposed changes in experts engagement modalities and other changes in resourcing strategy, the budget deficit need to be addressed as well.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
All TORs of experts will be reviewed and resources availability and planning will be done
[Added: 2019/12/16] [Last Updated: 2021/04/12]
CTA/PM 2021/03 Completed All Experts TORs have indeed been revised to match IPSA contract modality History
9. Recommendation:

Recommendation 9. Design fit-for-purpose reporting templates with a greater focus on the M&E framework – including the performance indicators

The monitoring template used by the project includes a long list of questions - in addition to the reporting on performance indicators - that need to be answered to complete a semi-annual monitoring report. It is too time consuming, cumbersome to complete and the result is that it does not provide accurate and timely information on how the project is progressing. There is a need to review the reporting template, to shorten it and focus on the performance framework with the set of indicators as the central part to measure how well the project is progressing toward the achievement of its expected outputs and outcomes.

On that front, it is important to guide the project management to deliver fit-forpurpose reporting. For example, developing a 1-page dashboard reporting template targeting decision makers. 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/11/20] [Last Updated: 2020/11/14]

Recommendation taken under advisement

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
KPIs being developed.
[Added: 2019/12/15] [Last Updated: 2021/08/29]
CTA 2021/08 Completed Meeting done, final report and presentation submitted to deputy minister. History

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